When is the right time to talk to an elder law attorney? It’s understandable for families to put it off due to finances, but waiting can be a risky move. If something happens to your parents before they’ve discussed documents like advance directives, powers of attorney, and wills, you could face drawn-out fights over their estate or medical treatments you know they wouldn’t want.
What is an Advance Directive?
It’s not always comforting to think about the “what if’s” in life. If you’re in a car crash with severe head trauma, would you want to be on life support? If there’s no hope for recovery following a stroke, would you want to be kept alive by machines?
An advance directive is a legal document that tells medical professionals exactly what your parents would and would not want for care in different situations. Would your parents want a feeding tube inserted in the end stages of cancer? If the heart stopped, how would they feel about resuscitation?
Advance directives can go into religious beliefs regarding surgical procedures and other treatments. It covers one’s thoughts on where they would want care services after a debilitating illness or medical condition.
It can also include a person who would make medical decisions for you as is named in a power of attorney. Many times, the power of attorney and advance directive are created together for the highest level of protection.
What is a Power of Attorney?
When you choose an agent to make decisions for you if you can’t, you sign a power of attorney document to state who is allowed to make these decisions. That person is known as an “agent.” Powers of attorney cover medical care and financial matters.
Some people pick one person to handle both medical and financial matters, but it’s fine to choose different people. Your parent might want you to make medical decisions. Your brother works in a bank, however, and they want him to manage their finances when they can’t. They can do that and even name alternates if someone is unable or unwilling to fulfill the duties of an agent.
The Value of a Will
Anyone who dies without a valid will in place will have assets distributed per state law. Legally, a spouse or children are first on the list. This is followed by parents, brothers/sisters, and farther down the line to aunts/uncles and cousins.
If your mom or dad didn’t like a spouse or child and there’s no will, the estate could end up in the wrong hands. A will prevents issues like this from happening and gives your mom or dad the power to clearly state who gets what.
Talk to an expert in elder care laws with your parents. These are the legal protections they need to have in place. It does cost money. But, it’s worth it when you consider the risks of being incapacitated without having legal protections in place. Call an estate planning attorney to learn more.
If you or a loved need assistance with Elder Law in Pell City, AL contact Nolan Elder Law & Estate Planning today. (205) 390-0101